He couldn’t leave his room. Afton lay in bed, staring up at the ceiling and breathing heavily. Yet another flashback to that night plaguing him. He hadn’t left his bed ever since the incident, and he doubted he ever could. His back stung. Everywhere ached. His brother was gone. He wished it was the other way around. Nobody knew where he went. The kingdom was searching. But Afton knew that wherever his little brother went, it would be far, far away from their world. He was lucky to have escaped. He rolled onto his side, bringing the blanket above his head and shielding himself from the depressing reality they were thrust into. Afton couldn’t help but think about that day. The day Ashton got away. He had followed one of his friends in their path, taking themselves to god knows where. He knew who the friend was, but they had no name yet. They simply used their old one. He remembered constantly wondering how they were, and what the scar by their eye and the thousand of scrapes and bumps and bruises on their body were from. Now, considering their situation, he knew. Afton raised his arm to look at his own bruises, his bleary eyes making it hard to see them in the darkness. They weren’t bad, his mother was too kind for that. But they were there. He didn’t want to think about them. Slowly, he stood up, holding onto the ledge of his nightstand as he exercised his muscles for the first time in a week. He felt awful in so many remarkable ways, but more importantly, he felt empty. It was an indescribable form of emptiness though, and it was an emptiness that could only be filled by the sustenance he so carelessly deprived himself of. It was only a matter of time before his bad habits would begin to affect him, but his method of solving the issue was less than ideal He knew what he had to do. It was a habit that Ashton had continually tried and failed to stop him from doing. An eating disorder, as he called it, but Ashton was gone, and nobody could stop him. God, he wished someone would. Afton didn’t want to eat, but he knew that he had to. There was no way around it. Stuffing his mouth with cotton and forcing himself to swallow it down was already catching up to him, he had no other options. Slowly, he trudged his way to the kitchen, taking an orange and peeling it with his worn-out fingers and doing his best to swallow the small piece he peeled. He didn’t want to do this. Everything past that first orange had immediately blocked itself out of his mind, warping into blurs and splotches of bleak events passed and leaving him feeling disgustingly sick. He wanted to throw it all up. But he knew he couldn’t. Oranges turned to orange juice and that into bouts of regret, self-hatred, and dark, concerning thoughts. He couldn’t handle it. Afton downed the liquid with a complimentary side of cotton, forcing himself to swallow. He wanted to stop eating. He wanted to throw up and starve. But he had to eat, just as how he had to face his depressing reality and on up to his role as oldest. He doubted he could even do that anymore. How could he take care of his brothers if he couldn’t even take care of himself? He couldn’t. He moved to sit on the floor, holding his head in his hands and curling up slowly. Why did it have to be like this?
He was afraid. Alexander stood next to his brother Alasdair, who had quietly moved to stand next to them as their mother came back. They all recognised the expression she wore. Everyone feared what was to come next. “I can’t believe you all,” she muttered in a harsh tone, shaking her head and rubbing her temples. “You are all so irresponsible.” Nobody spoke. It was best not to. Alexander felt himself getting angry “You let him get away!” she raised her voice, balling her hands into fists as she looked down at the disappointments she raised. Alexander was unphased. He was used to hearing her shouting. But this time, it wasn’t in his head anymore. He turned to look at Alasdair, who was shaking. He looked as if he were about to cry. Afton simply stood next to him silently, staring at his feet. Just by looking at him, you could tell he was relapsing. It was worrying. “You’re all worthless, you all were supposed to be watching! Your brother is dead because of you!” “It’s not our fault,” Alexander looked up at his mother, his crimson and white eyes making contact with her white and lavender ones. He hated looking into her eyes. “You were supposed to be watching for him,” her expression turned sour as she tore off her gloves and took off her mask, tossing each of them aside and approaching Alexander. Her features twisted into something monstrous as his brothers faded away, leaving him bewildered and alone. He was a colour cube, turning and shifting with every breath he took, with every pulse he felt ripple throughout his body. He felt a scaly hand grab onto his wrist, digging its claws into his soft, caramel skin. He broke free, his hand connecting with the monster’s face. It wasn’t a monster. It was his mother. “How dare you!” he grabbed onto his arm once again, raising it up and getting ready to do something unspeakable. Alasdair backed away letting out a wail as he watched helplessly. Afton pushed him aside, grabbing his mothers arm and pulling it down forcefully. “What are you doing, child?” she shouted at him, letting Alexander go and turning to look him in his black and white eyes. “He doesn’t know, okaasan! Punish me instead, please!” She turned to look from Alexander to Afton, staying silent for a long time before grabbing hold of Afton’s wrist and pulling him up. He stayed quiet, looking at his younger brother with fearful eyes. He simply stared back, his brother’s face fading into a blur of darkness as he was dragged down into a dark hallway. His mother turned back into a monster, long ram horns sprouting from her head and curling down to her ankles. Her skin was covered in scales. Her jaw was unhinged, the long tongue of a snake moving to wrap itself around Afton’s throat as he gave into the torture. She no longer looked like LiMei. She was no longer a mother. She was now her authentic self: a monster, willing to hurt the innocent. She was never their mother.
The Bleak Night
“Otousan?” “Yes, Alasdair?” Alasdair stood peeking from the corner, looking up at his father with worry and fear hidden deep in his heterochromatic eyes. Things had changed drastically in the short span of only a day, and his father was looking beyond stressed, tracking the search parties that went around their land closely on a control panel in his headquarters. He had no idea what happened, but the only thing he knew was that Ashton had gone missing. “Otousan, what’s going on?” he slowly approached his father, who turned to look at him with an exhausted expression. “I’m commanding ten search parties composed of our militia to look for your brother, my son,” he sighed out, rubbing his eyes and covering a portion of his face with his calloused hands. The dark circles around his eyes were worryingly prominent on his tanned skin, making him appear rather ghastly. It was worrying to see him like this. “Will you find him?” he asked meekly, hanging his head to look at his indoor slippers. He didn’t want to think about the possibilities, nor did he want to think at all. It was too scary to do so. However, something was hanging onto his conscience. Something that didn’t ever go away. Alasdair remembered his relationship with his brother. They used to share a close bond over books, with the two of them visiting new worlds nearly every day. He remembered looking into his white and orange eyes, only for Ashton to look him in his white and golden ones. He missed life back then. He resented Ashton for replacing him. But even then, he couldn’t stay angry. His little brother was missing. He hated himself for being a cause of that. What would have happened had he been nicer? “Alasdair,” His father mumbled, interrupting his thoughts and turning from the control panel to look at his son. “I have a question for you.” “What is it?” He kneeled to look at his son with bright, green eyes, forcing himself to crack a small smile as well, “Alasdair, when I am away, what does your mother do? What does she say to you?” He swallowed nervously, speaking in a low, shaky tone as he went over the long and torturous years of their broken situation. He could see the heartbreak in his father’s eyes grow worse and worse as he continued to detail the gruelling events. Slowly, Solomon stood up after his son’s story finished, shaking and wrapping his arms around himself as his armour clanked quietly. “I’m so sorry, my son,” he whispered, doing his best to hold his resolve, “I’m so, so sorry.” “It’s okay, Otousan. Please, just find Ashton.” “Alasdair,” he heard his mother call out. Immediately, the two of them turned to look at her. He knew the expression his mother was wearing all too well. “Can you please come with me? It’s rude to disturb your father when he’s busy.” “Okay, Okaasan,” He gave his father one final glance before hesitantly leaving with his mother. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Solomon move to sit in a chair, holding his head in his hands and shaking. Then, he heard a sob. His father was crying.
I Want To Leave
Ashton sat by his window, looking out at the rainy, colourful world that lay just outside of the castle. His brothers were each tending to themselves, with Alasdair comforting Alexander for the third time that night and Afton in the kitchen forcing himself to eat anything he could find. He just wanted a normal life, a life without him having to bear witness to the damage his mother had done to his siblings. He wanted his brothers to have a normal life, a life without favouritism, golden children, eating disorders or schizophrenia. A life with parents who didn’t fill his cup of love to overflowing, leaving none for his brothers. A life without depression, or self-hatred, or irreparable mental damage. A life without the cup hogging all of the water. A life without him. Ashton stood up, opening his balcony doors and looking down. He knew what he had to do. He looked down at the colourful city before him. It was filled with life, glowing at all hours, never sleeping and never ceasing. The thousands of bright lights shined on his tan, glittery skin, curving at his narrow, innocent eyes and fracturing at his neck. He was so high up in the world, both literally and figuratively, yet so, so lonely and sad. His black, curly hair blew gently as the winds picked up, a stray tear or two blowing with it. He was only thirteen, so why did he feel this horrible if he was so young? Ashton could barely make out what life would be at the bottom. So many people bustling with life, working with much less than he had and being so much happier. How could he be a prince for his people if he couldn’t even govern himself? Slowly, he lifted one leg up after the other, moving to stand on the ledge of his balcony. Everything was so far, yet so, so close. With only one movement, life would be so much better for his brothers. He stood, looking down at the world until he finally stepped down from the ledge, moving back to his room to pack everything that was important to him. He wanted to leave, but where would he go? There was no place in the world for someone like him, and if he was spotted, he would simply be taken back to the castle, where he would be stuck again, and where his brothers would continue to suffer. Unless he could leave this place entirely. Quickly, he pulled out his phone, opening up to the contact of his closest friend. He quickly pressed the call button, holding his phone up to his ear. “Ashton?” his friend questioned, “Why are you calling me? It’s two, I have to leave in three hours—” “I’m coming with you.” “What?” “I’m coming with you. I’m running away.” “Ashton, why? Are you crazy?” “I have to, Alena. I want my brothers happy. If I’m gone, everything will be better. I know it will be better.” “Ashton—” “I’m coming with you.”
They’re liars. I’ve been nothing but good to them My entire life. I dedicated my precious time into raising these ungrateful children And this is the thanks I get? Pathetic. I’ve been nothing but good to them. I Am a Good Mother. Sure, I may slip up at times. That is completely normal Especially for someone as myself Who has so many, much more important responsibilities Than to help these horrible children. But I can assure you immensely, I Am a Good Mother.
The third one is broken, Alasdair is his name. He feels abandoned, He feels replaced He feels unloved. I hear his cries at night As the second one comforts him And as I read a book to the fourth. He says he needs me, He says he wants to be enough He says he needs to be enough, He says he needs my love and validation. But I do not love him any less than I already did. He’s just not enough anymore. He is no longer my golden child. This one is. But despite that, I Am a Good Mother.
The second is sick. Alexander is what he’s called. He says he hears my voice at night Yelling at him. I often hear his relentless shouts For it all to stop. He acts dramatic, He breaks down in front of me, Praying, wishing, That he could feel something, Anything, And that my screaming would stop, But i do not scream at him. He hears things. This is not my fault, And it never was. I never liked him anyway, But this new advancement, This new ailment, Makes him even more distasteful. But, nonetheless, I Am a Good Mother.
The fourth one is obedient. His name is Ashton. His marks may not be as high as the third’s, But I can assure you, He is much better. He does not complain about any problems he has. He does not exhibit The behaviours his brothers do. He does not fight back, he does not retort, He simply listens, Sits still, And stays quiet. That Is a good child. Ashton is a good child. And I? I Am a Good Mother.
I Am a Good Mother
The first one, His name is Afton, Is a useless child. He does nothing but lay in bed all day, Staying silent. He says he wants to leave, But he’s too lazy to ever go through with it. Occasionally, he refuses to eat for days, Other times, he can’t stop himself And his hunger. It is an ongoing cycle. He needs to lose weight. Afton messes up the most. He asks for help, He begs for it, But he will not take it He will not take my help. He is not a good child. Afton Is not a good child. But I, I Am a Good Mother. I Am, And I Always Have Been A Good Mother.